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In Place of Strife

The Mediation Chambers

Are you sitting comfortably?

...then I'll begin!

It is not uncommon for the parties to disagree about the venue. Sometimes there is a reluctance to use the offices of the other party's solicitors, but consider the pluses: your own facilities are not being tied up and usually you will have a chance to eat and drink at the other party's expense!

An understandable concern is that you will be allocated a window-less broom cupboard or at best a cramped room. Providing a list of attendees at the first opportunity and discussing rooms will generally get results, particularly as the list will assist catering and reception.

And if you are the host you may be surprised how the tone of the mediation can be improved by making a little extra effort. Meeting the other party at reception quickly establishes a human touch and encourages a constructive approach, as does offering the visitors a choice of the rooms available. As often as I have seen parties complain about allocation of the smaller room, I have seen those provided with choice volunteer to take that accommodation particularly if their party is smaller in number.

Lastly and probably to state the obvious, windows are wonderful! Avoid basements and 'inside' rooms. If your office is lucky enough to have rooms with a view, use them. It really does seem to be the case that inspiring views inspire. I will never forget the change in temperature during a frosty joint session when Tower Bridge framed by the panoramic window before us, lifted to allow passage of a tall ship. We all went to the window to watch this rare and splendid sight, and whilst settlement remained a good few hours away, the ebbing of tension was unmistakable.

Mediator: Patrick Walker

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